Visual content is a very important element for establishing your brand’s online identity. If your photos are bad quality, it can ruin a user’s first impression of your business. High quality photos, along with a well-designed website is critical for being acknowledged as a professional and credible company.
You might be thinking that you need to hire a professional photographer to achieve the polished photos that your website needs. That could not be further from the truth. There are so many cheap and easy-to-use cameras that take great photos. Plus, you’d be surprised at the camera quality of your very own smartphone. You will learn that how you take your photos is a lot more important than what device you use to take them.
Here are nine tips for mastering the art of taking photos for your website:
1. Use natural/bright light
Most professional photographers will tell you that lighting is one of the most important factors, if not the most important factor that goes into capturing a great photo. It is advised to stay away from using a flash as it can cause images to have a strange hue. Instead, opt for natural and bright light sources. Even if you are taking photos indoors, you can have your subject positioned near a window or another natural light source to avoid unsightly shadows. Mid-morning and late afternoon are considered the best times with optimal lighting for professional looking photos.
2. Think about backgrounds
The background of a picture is just as important as the main subject. A cluttered background can make your overall image look sloppy and distract from the focal point. The best way to combat this is by using a plain background that contrasts the subject and allows it to pop out. If you don’t have access to a plain background, a useful rule of thumb is to take photos of subjects in their natural environment.
3. Make sure subject is in focus
The last thing you want is to spend hours trying to capture great photos for your website just to find out that all of them are blurry. Whether you are shooting a person or a product, you want to make sure the subject is in focus. Focusing is the process of adjusting the camera lens so that the focal point is sharp and clear. Make sure you are aware of your camera’s functionality to determine the best way to focus your lens. Lower end and older camera usually have a fixed lens that cannot be adjusted. In this case, you want to be sure to stand far enough away from your subject to avoid blurriness. Newer and higher end cameras, however, usually have an auto-focus feature.
4. Use a tripod
To take professional photos, you must ensure that the camera is free of any shakiness or instability. Investing in a tripod is an optimal way to capture shots that are perfectly still. Tripods are most beneficial when shooting at low shutter speeds, extreme close-ups or longer focal lengths. Tripods range in size and cost so you are sure to find one that meets your photography needs and your budget.
5. Consider photo composition
The most common and simple composition rule to follow is the rule of thirds. To follow this rule, imagine placing a tic-tac-toe board with three rows and three columns over your camera’s view finder. The rule states that you should place the most important part of your photo (usually the subject) on the areas of the viewfinder where the lines intersect to create the rows and columns. Most smartphones and cameras have a grid option that allows you to see the rule of thirds on your screen before taking a photo.
Another composition rule to think about is how closely you are zoomed in on a subject. For instance, you always want to leave enough room above the head of your subject in a close-up shot, but it is unnecessary to ever be zoomed out far enough to see a subject’s feet.
6. Make sure the resolution is correct
Always make sure the resolution of your photos is sufficient to look good on both small and large screens. Usually, the higher the resolution, the better but 72dpi is a good standard to follow. Using a high-resolution digital camera may result in images with resolutions that are too high for your website, but they can always be resized later. With the help of a web designer, you will be able to determine what image resolution best suits your site.
7. Always take multiple shots
In order to get through your photoshoot as quickly as possible, you may be tempted to simply take a photo at one angle and move on to the next one. Instead, you should always shoot from multiple angles. This will not only give your customers a better view of the subject but will also give you options to choose from when it comes time to edit. You do not want to be stuck with just one image that turns out to be a bad photo.
8. Use editing tools
Even if you follow all the rules of photography, your photo may still be missing the final touch that will make it perfect. If you have some level of expertise in photo editing, you may feel inclined to make major adjustments in a more complex editing software like Photoshop. If not, you can stick to making slight edits with the contrast or saturation in a more user-friendly editing app or website.
9. Don’t forget metadata
A photo’s metadata is the text providing information about the rights and administration of an image. The metadata allows information to be transported with an image file so that it can be read and understood by other software and human users. The benefit to using metadata is that it can actually affect your search engine ranking in the same way that other SEO based content on your website does. Avoid using default file names such as IMG_5678 because search engines will not pick up on it. Try describing what is in the picture so those with visual impairments who use a browser that reads images to them can understand what your photo is showing. For an extra SEO boost, include a keyword in some of your photo descriptions if it sounds natural.
Though all of these are great tips for taking awesome website photos, nothing is set in stone. Do not be afraid to break the rules sometimes. If you have an idea for a creative and unique approach to a photo, go for it! After all, it is your business and while you do want to appeal to your customers, it is important also add in your own style that will make your website stand out. For more information about how to build your website to attract new customers and stay connected with current customers, use our Element of a Website guide.